Better Start for Children with Disability initiative - Common Questions and Answers

Can provisional psychologists apply for membership of the Better Start Early Intervention Service Provider Panel?

No. Only psychologists with full registration will be eligible to apply for membership of the Service Provider Panel.

Are state services eligible to apply for membership of the Better Start Early Intervention Service Provider Panel?

No. State based services are not eligible to apply for membership of the Service Provider Panel. It is intended that the Better Start initiative will complement existing Commonwealth and State and Territory government services.

In regards to Question 16, what is meant by "has the applicant been subject of any form of litigation or enquiry"?

In this instance, litigation and enquiry refers to any legal action taken against a service provider in relation to their conduct or service delivery.

It is a requirement under the Panel Service Provider Operational Guidelines that at least two people must have access to FaHCSIA's online financial management system (FOFMS) in order to process claims. What happens if I am a sole provider and I do not have a second person to verify the claims I make in FOFMS?

The FOFMS system will not process payments without a case manager and an authorising officer. This may be a challenge for smaller businesses or for sole providers on the provider panel. Family businesses often have family members involved in a business function in roles such as accounts or administration. In these situations it is quite feasible for someone in this position to authorise claims in FOFMS.

My organisation employs 4 speech pathologists. Do I apply for the Panel as a sole provider?

Yes. Any organisation that employs allied health professionals from the same discipline (e.g. speech pathology) should apply for the Panel as a sole provider. Allied health professionals working for the organisation are not required to individually apply for the Panel.

Can organisations that currently provide services free of charge start begin charging for their services?

It is a decision for the service provider about whether they start charging for services that they have not charged for previously. Please note that service providers will have their fees published on the Department's website.

Will the early intervention funding only be available until 2014?

No. The Better Start Initiative will be ongoing. Therefore, families will be able to access funding until they have either used the $12,000, or their child turns seven, whichever is earlier.

I do not have a Masters in Audiology, can I still apply for the Better Start Panel?

Audiologists applying for membership of the Better Start Panel must hold a Masters in Audiology or equivalent and be a member of a professional body such as Audiology Australia or the Australian College of Audiology (ACAud).

With regard to 'Other early intervention specialist' would an early childhood teacher be considered to be an acceptable member of staff under Better Start?

Early childhood teachers are not able to apply for membership of the Better Start Panel as sole providers. However, suitably experienced teachers are able to deliver services under Better Start provided that they are working as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Our organisation has a large number of staff involved in the early intervention program. Are we required to list all staff members under Criterion 4?

Yes. Applicants are required to list all staff members who will be providing services, including consortium members. If your organisation has a number of staff, you may wish to group staff by their disciplines.

For example:

  • 4 psychologists – all have general registration with the National Psychology Board of Australia.
  • 3 audiologists – all hold a Masters in Audiology and are members of a professional body.

Do all programs/interventions to be delivered by service providers need to be included on the online application?

Yes. Applicants are required to list all programs and interventions that they propose to deliver. Applicants should read carefully the section in the Better Start Service Provide Panel Operational Guidelines that lists in and out of scope interventions. The Better Start funding cannot be used by parents to pay for out of scope interventions, and service providers will not be able to claim for these.

If you are unable to include all programs and interventions because of the word limit please provide a range of programs and interventions you intend to deliver. Following the assessment process, successful applicants will be asked to provide a comprehensive list of all programs and interventions in the form of a fee schedule, which will be published on the DSS website.

Are applicants able to include an attachment to their application?

No. The application form does not allow for attachments to be added.

What is the process for agencies to add to the list of program offerings when new programs are developed by service providers?

As outlined in the Better Start for Children with Disability Initiative Service Provider Panel Operational Guidelines providers must provide a schedule of fees to the Department which lists the programs/interventions being delivered.

If a service provider develops a new program, they must notify the Department in writing advising of the intended changes to the fee schedule. Only eligible interventions can be included in the provider's schedule of fees.

For Criterion 3, why are applicants required to provide the cost of services as a cost per hour?

Applicants are asked to provide the cost of the services as a cost per hour for assessment and data collection purposes. Following assessment, providers will be asked to provide a comprehensive fee schedule which will be published on the Department's website.

What are the requirements for Criterion 3?

For further information about how to respond to a specific criterion, please refer to the Better Start for Children with Disability Initiative Service Provider Panel Application Form Guide.

Are group interventions eligible under the Better Start initiative?

Yes. As outlined in the Better Start Service Provider Panel Operational Guidelines, the Better Start funding will pay for the provision of early intervention services, including one-on-one intensive activities and tailored individual or group programs that can be delivered in a range of settings.

Are applicants required to list all outlet locations?

Yes. Applicants are required to list all outlet locations.

If you are unable to list the locations of all outlets because of the limited number of rows in the applications form, please provide as many outlets as possible. Following the assessment process, successful applicants will be asked to provide the comprehensive list of outlet locations for the Funding Agreement.

Can I scan and submit a written reference into my application as a separate document?

No. As indicated above and in the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative Service Provider Panel Application Form Guide, the application form does not allow for attachments to be added. Applicants should copy and paste written references into the text box provided on page 20 of the Application Form.

Can a referee be from the same organisation as an Applicant?

No, a referee cannot come from the same organisation as the applicant. However, a referee can be from another organisation that is separately applying for membership of the Better Start Early Intervention Service Provider Panel.

If my organisation is the lead agency of a consortium already providing services under the Helping Children with Autism Package, how do we apply to deliver services as a consortium under Better Start?

The applicant will need to identify on the application form that it is the lead agency for the consortium. A consortium that is already delivering services under the Helping Children with Autism Package will still need to apply for the Better Start panel and must list all (Better Start) consortium members in the textbox at Question 13a of the Application Form.

Individual Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) arrangements are the responsibility of each individual consortium. It is expected that consortia applying for membership of the Better Start Panel will be able to describe the details of their MoU (or equivalent) arrangements.

For further information about consortia arrangements under the Better Start initiative, please refer to the Better Start Service Provider Panel Operational Guidelines.

Where can I find a list of the specific interventions that are considered eligible under the Better Start Initiative?

For information about the types of early intervention services considered to be within and outside the scope of Better Start, please see Section 4 (pages 8-11) of the Better Start for Children with Disability Operational Guidelines.

Will the Hanen Program IT TAKES TWO TO TALK (ITTTT) be considered in-scope as an eligible early intervention?

ITTTT, an evidence-based early intervention speech therapy program involving the training of parents, is currently able to be delivered under the Better Start for Children with Disability (Better Start) Package. As indicated in Section 4 (page 11) of the Better Start for Children with Disability Operational Guidelines, training for parents on specific techniques that support the delivery of an intervention at home is in scope for Better Start as long as it is part of the early intervention treatment plan for the child.

I note that applications are currently open for providers to become part of the panel to provide early intervention services to children aged under six years. How do I register to provide services to children aged 6-15?

Better Start Early Intervention Service providers will only be able to deliver services to children up to the age of seven. This is because the intent of the initiative is to better prepare eligible children for the transition to school.

Under Better Start, older children up to 15 years of age will have access to new Medicare items providing a treatment and management plan is in place by the age of 13. To access the new Medicare items, eligible children will need a referral from a specialist, consultant physician or general practitioner to an eligible allied health professional. Allied health professionals must be registered with Medicare Australia to be able to provide Medicare funded services, and in this regard will need to contact Medicare separately. 

Content Updated: 14 March 2014